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Backpacks complete journey to Nepal in honor of 9/11 victim from ND

Backpacks complete journey to Nepal in honor of 9/11 victim from ND

MAYVILLE, N.D. — A project that started as a way to honor a 9/11 victim from North Dakota has now reached across an ocean.

Wednesday, April 4, elementary students celebrated a remarkable year of giving and remembering.

Their donated backpacks made it to the poorest of the poor in Nepal.

In Mrs. Fugleberg's second grade class, it was a little like Christmas.

Letters have arrived from new friends in Nepal.

They come from children who recently received 200 backpacks collected and sent by the entire elementary school here in Mayville.

The reason, the person behind it, and a woman remembered are made for a movie script.

Stanley, North Dakota native Ann Nelson died during the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.

"She was someone, when she traveled to Peru, she didn't stay in fancy hotels and go to fancy nightclubs, she went to orphanages and worked," said special education director Mary Stammen, a friend of Ann's.

Mary heard that Ann's family had discovered a special "life list" or "bucket list" on Ann's computer.

The word Nepal stood out.

Ann could no longer get there, but Mary and Mayville children sure could send a piece of North Dakota to Nepal.

So, 200 backpacks were bought, and the kids sent letters to children in the earthquake region of Nepal.

The backpacks got held up at customs.

Corrupt officials wanted more than $1,000 to release the backpacks to the children.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp's office intervened, sent a letter to the embassy, and the backpacks and letters of love from Mayville soon got to the kids.

Wednesday at the school, Heitkamp came to congratulate the children on an incredible service learning project that taught everyone some valuable lessons.

"It can start just as a small seed, in Mary's mind, of what can happen when you take an idea and you say, 'I hope I can get this done,'" said Heitkamp.

Back in Mrs. Fugleberg's class, the kids are finding out more about their pen pals in Nepal.

Now, Mayville kids will write back, and despite a significant time zone difference, they hope to also Skype students in Nepal.

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